Search This Blog

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Polling, Immigration, and Citizenship

Recent polls show support for proposals to allow those who came to the United States illegally to stay with some form of legal status.  The New York Times reports that question wording affects the results:
But results vary widely when Americans are asked whether legal status should include the possibility of citizenship. In a large national poll released on March 21 by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution, 63 percent of Americans said immigrants here illegally should be allowed to become citizens if they met certain requirements.
In a poll published a week later by the Pew Research Center, which asked about citizenship in a slightly different way, only 43 percent said they would give citizenship to the immigrants, while 24 percent said the immigrants should be allowed to stay as permanent residents but not citizens. The 20-point gap points to a difficulty facing lawmakers as they sell their proposals to revamp the immigration system: its procedures are unfamiliar and puzzling to many Americans.
The most important overhaul proposals in play would all modify or expand on a core progression in existing law. Currently, certain immigrants who have family ties or employment prospects here can become legal permanent residents with a green card. That is the first step on the path to citizenship, because permanent residents can apply to naturalize after five years, or three years if they are married to citizens.
Lawmakers are wrangling about if and when immigrants who are here illegally should be allowed to apply for green cards, and whether to create a new class of residents who would not be permitted to apply for citizenship.
Some polling questions imply that illegal immigrants would move quickly to citizenship. In fact, the proposals emerging in both houses of Congress would offer naturalization for most illegal immigrants after no less than 13 years, and in some cases far longer.